The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

Edward Tufte has published a essay called “The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint.”
“In corporate and government bureaucracies, the standard method for making a presentation is to talk about a list of points organized onto slides projected up on the wall. For many years, overhead projectors lit up transparencies, and slide projectors showed high-resolution 35mm slides. Now “slideware” computer programs for presentations are nearly everywhere. Early in the 21st century, several hundred million copies of Microsoft PowerPoint were turning out trillions of slides each year.
Alas, slideware often reduces the analytical quality of presentations. In particular, the popular PowerPoint templates (ready-made designs) usually weaken verbal and spatial reasoning, and almost always corrupt statistical analysis. What is the problem with PowerPoint? And how can we improve our presentations? ”
Link:Edward Tufte: Books – Essay: The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint

Six Tips for Improving Your Design Documentation

“If you are a designer or product planner, you probably create documents of some kind to capture your design decisions and solutions. Documentation is a crucial component of successful product planning and implementation, so it’s important that it communicates as effectively as possible. Good organization, complete information, and clear writing are, of course, key to the success of any design document, but there are some other, less-obvious techniques you can use to make your documents more readable and understandable.”

The Power of Maps

“I think that if space is deed the “final frontier” then we are all in big trouble-at least in so far as social and political theory go. Perhaps the contemporary shift to metaphors of space as modes of intelligibility is architecture’s triumph-the conquest of dense urban spaces and inhabited building by the principle of open space. It is not clear to me what ‘a new kind of space” Schutz has in mind, because, like architectural space, it seems uninhabited and uninhabitable. I want to ask – where are the people?”
Link: Shari Popen – The Power of Maps

Conceptual Presentations

5{ns are becoming increasingly visual and less textual. Converting every concept into an image is the challenge and, at the same time, the solution.
Presentations with visual support, typically running under PowerPoint, have become ubiquitous. All of us have been at some time in need of making one of them and they are, increasingly, a part of our daily work.”

Differences between Information Architecture and Information Design

I believe I gleaned this originally from Jesse James Garrett some time ago and have found it a useful explanation for both myself and others.
Between the two names we have different concerns. Information architecture (IA) is primarily about cognition ? how people process information and construe relationships between different pieces of information. Information design is primarily about perception ? how people translate what they see and hear into knowledge.
Also I consider IA to be far broader in scope to include whole regions of information while ID is concerned with what the people are involved with now.
Both require different skills. Information architects come from a variety of backgrounds, but I sense that a majority of them display an orientation toward language. Information designers, on the other hand, tend to be oriented toward the visual arts. As a result, the majority of information designers come from exactly one discipline: graphic design.
Information architecture belongs to the realm of the abstract, concerning itself more with the structures in the mind than the structures on the page or screen. Information design, however, couldn?t be more concrete, with considerations such as color and shape fundamental to the information designer?s process.
Be mindful that organization and presentation are different concepts. Data can only be organized with in a few principles: Magnitude, Time, Numbers, Alphabet (Chinese by stroke?), Category, Location, and Randomness.
Magnitude, Time, Numbers, and Alphabet are all sequences of some type, which we can use to organize things based on a similar characteristic shared by all the data.
Category and Location are organizations that also use some inherently meaningful aspect of the data around which the data can be orientated.
Randomness is the lack of organization. It is important when we are trying to build an experience that isn?t necessarily easy ? an exploration or game.


More from “Understanding”…
Conversation is the most natural, effective, yet most complex mode of human connection. The goal of conversation is understanding between the participants. Successful visual communication design can be defined as frozen conversation much as wonderful architecture is referred to as frozen music.Understanding information is power.

Humanistic Virtues in Information Graphics

However unmoved, the news media cannot be seized as a scapegoat for the objectivity of information graphics proliferating the discipline of information design. Information graphics have traditionally upheld the role as a constructor of clarity in visual communication; where interpretation experiments explicitly create obstacles in the exchanges of highly sensitive, impermeable data.

Auditory Information Design

“Although there is a well developed practice and culture of movie sound, computer applications are a new challenge because of the types of information to be conveyed and the interactivity between the user and the sounds. This thesis develops an approach to the design of sounds to support information processing activities. The design approach is supported by a system of case-based and rule-based methods and tools. This hybrid system addresses key design issues in a flexible manner necessary for real world design practice. The approach, methods and tools are demonstrated in a series of scenarios that show how sounds can provide information that is difficult to obtain visually, and how they can provide extra affordances in the human-computer interface.”

Read: Auditory Information Design

About charts and graphs

Part of a series in the AIGA design forum this article is another one of those convenient lists of “do’s and don’t’s” for practicioners who don’t want or don’t have the time to dig deeper. Unfortunately I cannot link to the pdf download directly so you must go through the AIGA site.

Reviewing these basic dos and don

Presenting Data and Information

“Below are my notes from this one-day class. Edward Tufte is one of the few very “rich” presenters I’ve encountered before — there’s no unnecessary repetition of content or other filler. I found myself really mentally involved with the class throughout the day. Tufte is a really gifted teacher/presenter; I left the class full of enthusiasm and excitement for the material he covered.”

Read: Notes from “Presenting Data and Information”

Organic Information Design

Benjamin Fry’s Master’s Thesis at MIT Media Lab. The abstract ||
Design techniques for static information are well understood, their descriptions and discourse thorough and well-evolved. But these techniques fail when dynamic information is considered. There is a space of highly complex systems for which we lack deep understanding because few techniques exist for visualization of data whose structure and content are continually changing. To approach these problems, this thesis introduces a visualization process titled Organic Information Design. The resulting systems employ simulated organic properties in an interactive, visually refined environment to glean qualitative facts from large bodies of quantitative data generated by dynamic information sources.

Download pdf or go to his website: benjamin fry